A key British cabinet minister has been forced to resign for the second time in less than a year. David Blunkett is in charge of Work and Pensions and has quit over breaking the ministerial code of conduct on taking paid work while out of the cabinet.
This is a severe blow to the British Prime Minister. Tony Blair is reported to have accepted the resignation reluctantly. Downing Street has said it continues to fully support the embattled minister despite admitting he made a mistake. Blunkett broke ministerial rules for not consulting an independent committee which advises former ministers on whether they should take up jobs. He received three written warnings to do so. The opposition conservatives had accelerated their call for Blunkett’s to step down. Senior Tory Chris Grayling is also demanding an inquiry into the issue: “I think there are still big unanswered questions about private meetings between Mr Blunkett and members of the family who control shares in DNA bio science after he returned to government. Let’s be clear, the ministerial code is absolutely clear about this: you have to cut your links with business interests,” he said. “If Mr Blunkett carried on having meetings with them, and his ex-girlfriend says business was discussed at those meetings, Blunkett denies that, but there is a dispute between the two of them over what happened – if this is the case it is a serious offence,” he added. Blunkett had only been brought back into the cabinet earlier this year. He had stepped down as interior minister following a scandal over his affair with a married woman and claims he had fast tracked a visa for his lover’s nanny.